Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 3/Last week (September 29, 1860)

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The intelligence from Italy keeps our newsmongers alive, else there would be little left to talk about at this dull season of the year. Now that our own fears about our own harvest have been allayed, and we have made up our minds to the untimely end of the young partridges, and have ceased to look upon Volunteers as miraculous personages, but for Italy we should all be driven to the “Gardener’s Chronicle” and the “Gentleman’s Magazine.” The news from Italy alone, however, is enough for one week;—well nigh enough, if fairly carried out in fact, to represent the handiwork of a generation. Better far than the political regeneration of Italy, although this was desirable enough, is the destruction of the temporal power of the Pope. See what has been done in Austria since the reaction against the measures of Joseph II., even down to the days when Francis Joseph, unfortunately for himself, signed the Concordat with Rome. Look at Spain as she is, and consider what she has been since the time of Philip II. All this, and far more than this, is due to the preponderance of a priestly caste which was great in Austria, Spain, and elsewhere, mainly because the chief was reckoned amongst the rulers of the earth. With purely religious questions we are not concerned—nor would we write a single phrase which might clash with the conscientious convictions of any one of our readers ; but we are fully entitled to discuss the enormous evils which have arisen from a confusion between the things of this world, and those of the world beyond the grave.

A government by priests is the very worst government which the world has known. It is so because in temporal matters they are liable to the same blunders, and under the influence of the same ambitious thoughts as the laity, but to challenge their conclusions, or their motives is, as they say, to revolt against the Almighty. For forty years the doctrines of protection in commercial matters were much in favour with the rulers of England. Had these rulers been priests, the discussions of 1845-46 would not have been tried by the tests suggested by Adam Smith and Ricardo, but would have turned upon texts of Leviticus, and the Second to Timothy. The Roman Catholics in these islands have felt, to their own dire sorrow and confusion, how grievous a thing it is that spiritual considerations should be allowed to prevail in the ordering of temporal affairs. For a century and a half they were kept down, and exposed to all the misery resulting from the stern administration of highly penal laws, because the rulers of the Three Kingdoms esteemed it their mission to carry on a crusade against the Roman Catholic faith. As long as reason remained, old George III. set the opinions and remonstrances of his wisest statesmen at defiance upon this point. He had an oath in Heaven against which all human reasoning was vain. The Roman Catholics felt this to be highly inconvenient, but they have never regarded the blot in their own escutcheon, when the sufferings endured by Protestants and other dissidents in Roman Catholic countries were called in question. It was monstrous that an Irish Roman Catholic should be denied a share in the government of this country, but it was all well enough if a dead Protestant in Spain was refused the rites of sepulture, or a living Protestant in Rome was consigned to chains and a dungeon. The point chiefly in issue between the gladiators in this struggle now in progress in the Italian peninsula is, whether or no there shall be a broad line of demarcation drawn between the functions of the spiritual and the temporal ruler. If this point is carried, the rest will follow. Without descending to particulars, it is enough to say that if the education of the rising generation in any country be withdrawn from the overwhelming and exclusive influence of the priesthood, the human mind will be left free to take its own course in science, in literature, in political economy, in commercial enterprise; and the results are in wiser hands than our own. Hitherto, over the greater part of Europe, the maxim of rulers has been—

“Put out the light—and then put out the light!”

What wonder if darkness has followed?

Events happen in their due season, and it would almost seem as if the old Roman pear were ripe at last, and about to fall. Over and over again men have tried to pluck it when it was green and full of sap. They failed, for the time had not yet come. He would be a bold man who would say that even now there is an end of the old tyranny over the human intellect, but we must speak of things as we find them. It seems highly probable that just now the Papacy is entering upon a new phase of its existence. In its old form it is attacked by forces more formidable than the free levies of Garibaldi, and the disciplined troops of Sardinia. Men have ceased to believe in the Roman Pontiff as a temporal ruler—and even his spiritual power is shrewdly shaken by the evidence of the gross failure made by himself and his predecessors in merely temporal matters. Wander about in what were lately the States of the Church in any direction you will —see the desolation that prevails therein—the well-nigh universal misery—consider how fertile they are, how highly endowed by nature—and then ask yourself if the princes, under whose auspices such results have been brought about, can be considered infallible.

Men are ceasing to believe in the Pope, therefore it is that the end of his domination seems to be at hand. In France there remains so little faith in this matter, that it is scarcely worth speaking about it. In Austria, the Pope would find few advocates out of the imperial family, and those who immediately profit by the ecclesiastical system as maintained by the strong hand of power. Throughout the provinces of Austria, the Concordat with the Pope is felt to be an intolerable burden, and a national disgrace. We have seen the revolt on the banks of the Rhine, in the Grand Duchy of Baden, and elsewhere, against the dominion of the priests. The feelings and opinions of Italians may be safely inferred from their recent action.

If Pio Nono should be so ill-advised as to launch a sentence of excommunication against Victor Emmanuel or Garibaldi, such a step would simply expose him to derision and contempt. In the Swiss cantons, the battle between Free Thought and the Papacy was fought out definitively, some fifteen years ago, with what results is notorious enough. Of the course which would be taken by the Protestant countries of Europe, it is unnecessary to speak, as it would simply amount to this, that they would decline all interference, and content themselves with wishing well to the nations which were following where they had led. Let us not deceive ourselves as to the importance of the intelligence which the telegraph brings us day by day from Italy. It is a very different thing when the Pope is attacked in his last strong-hold, or when a Duke of Modena is simply turned about his business. The latter is merely a political event, the like of which may occur at any moment,—the second marks an epoch in the history of the human race.

It would be madness to suppose that, as a form of religious faith, the Roman Catholic system would not still endure for a period, the limits of which cannot be foreseen. But it will do so, because it will adapt itself to the alterations in the opinions and feelings of the human race. That has been the real secret of its power for centuries, and just now it is imperilling its very existence, because it is departing from the old traditions. Time was when it was very proper that a Pope should descend into the battle-field, and try physical conclusions with an emperor or a king. He always had a good store of curses in reserve, if his troops were beaten, and in those days curses were stronger than troops. Things are altered now,—when the troops of Pio Nono are beaten, his curses will not stand him in much stead. But such ragamuffins as he has been able to collect from amongst the needy adventurers of Europe, have turned out to be of no account when opposed to the onset of regular troops. The lessons which Lamoricière learnt in Algeria have not profited him much in Umbria and the Marches. The Pope, at the present moment, looking at him merely as a temporal prince, is fairly beaten, and would now be an exile from his states, but for the bayonets of the French soldiery. He is just Louis Napoleon’s private chaplain, and could be turned adrift by the Emperor without a moment’s notice. Last week a thrill ran through Europe on account of a suggestion put forth by a French writer, not, as it was supposed, without authority. It was to the effect that if the Pope, of his own voluntary act, chose to quit Rome by one gate, General Goyon and the French troops would march out at another, and leave what is called the Eternal City in the hands of the patriots. Louis Napoleon is standing sentinel over the Papacy, not over Rome. He feels the occupation of that city, and of the patrimony of St. Peter, to be an embarrassment—at least he says so. Thus much would appear to be true: but if Pio Nono were to take his departure, all pretext for a continuation of the French occupation would be gone. The position would be intolerable in the eyes of Europe. It seems, on the whole, probable that if Louis Napoleon has one sentiment left in his heart, it is for Italy. The original occupation of Rome took place in defiance of his opinion and remonstrances, as witness the famous letter to Edgar Ney. Once there he is not free to depart, because he has the public opinion of the French clergy to deal with, and this he cannot afford to disregard.

According to recent intelligence, the rout of the Pontifical troops has been most complete, and Lamoricière, no doubt, en route for Trieste, has taken refuge in Ancona. It must be a most unsafe halting-place; as the Italians are clearly masters of the sea. What could have induced a general, who, in former days, had won for himself a somewhat chivalric reputation, to march through the Papal Coventry at the head of all these rapscallions? His enemies say—Debt; his friends—Superstition. Meanwhile, the question of this moment is whether or no the Pope will fly from Rome a second time. He is surrounded by those who are strongly interested in their own opinion in advocating the policy of escape. Garibaldi is, no doubt, in earnest, when he says that if the Sardinians will not attack the French in Rome, or procure the evacuation by peaceful means, he is prepared to try conclusions even with France. Had it been otherwise we should not have heard of the entry of the Sardinian troops into Umbria and the Marches, and of the defeat inflicted by them upon the Papal levies. Cavour and Garibaldi are the real chess-players just now, and for the moment Cavour has won the move. If the Pope would but run away!


It is a pity that Princes cannot travel really incogniti. Royal spectacles are not the best contrivance for enabling the human eye to arrive at true results. If your ordinary rich man knows but little of the world as it is, what chance do the poor Porphyrogeniti stand of learning anything about the real meaning of life? The great Caliph Haroun Al-Raschid, as his deeds are chronicled in the old Arabian Tales, knew better than to make a formal progress through Bagdad with his royal turban on his head, and his golden sceptre in his hand. He used to wander about at nights, accompanied by the Vizier and the Chief Eunuch, in close disguise. The three would enter into the miserable dwelling of a hump-backed barber, or a starving porter, and share with these men their frugal supper. So they ascertained how men really lived and had their being in the fair city of Bagdad. Compare with this system the one on which the Imperial Catharine, Empress of all the Russias, used to act. She would rush down at top-speed from Petersburgh, or Moscow, to the Crimea, for the purpose of investigating with her own eyes the condition of her subjects. But in her journey she was surrounded, as usual, by all the pomp and splendour of her Court. Each day’s route, and the halting-place for each night, were carefully mapped out, and settled beforehand. Due notice was given to the persons in authority at the various relays. The very natural consequence was that the Empress travelled through provinces inhabited by happy villagers and luxurious serfs.

Peasant girls with soft blue eyes,
And hands which scattered early flowers

met their royal mistress at every turn. Old men tottered up to her carriage-door to bless her for the unclouded felicity which they had enjoyed under her rule, and the rule of her mild predecessors. One crowning felicity had been denied to them in the course of their long and happy career, and this was a sight of the Czarina. Happy in this respect, they could sing their Nunc dimittis, and pass away in peace to a more permanent, if not to a happier, form of existence. The knout was very carefully garlanded with crocuses, and looked like an emblem of village happiness.

It is said that after thirty years of age few men receive new ideas. However this may be, it is clear enough that as soon as a crown is placed upon a human head, it can scarcely be expected that the wearer should add much to his stock of what elderly maiden ladies call “general information.” Princes, therefore, should see something of the world before all men are in a conspiracy against them to hide from their view the true purport and meaning of life. When John Smith travels about, the railway authorities are not careful to place red cloth between the cab and the platform, in order that his feet may remain in ignorance of the vulgar pavement. Neither does he find triumphal arches at every village he visits—nor are the towns in which he may stop for the night upon his lawful business brilliantly illuminated in honour of himself and his amiable consort. Nor, luckily for him, does the mayor of every corporate town make him a tedious oration as he steps out of the railway-carriage. John Smith, moreover, becomes practically aware that working people do not always wear their best clothes, and that factory girls occasionally handle something as well as flowers. Whenever the day comes—may it be a far distant one!—when this young Prince is called to the throne, for the rest of his life he stands condemned to the monotony of royal routine. All the knowledge of human life he can ever hope to gain he must gain now. Under any circumstances, it would be impossible that he should be more than a spectator of the terrible struggles of humanity. The stern but awful teaching of adversity is denied to him. Louis Philippe and Louis Napoleon are the only two monarchs of our time who have graduated in the great University through which all of us—save kings—must pass. Hence their success.

We have all been delighted with the intelligence we have received of late from Canada about our young Prince. The enthusiasm which his mere presence has excited seems to have been all that could be desired. It is impossible, however, to disguise from oneself the fact, that the Canadas have rather been seeing the Prince, than the Prince the Canadas. The physical features of the country of course were open to his inspection—that is, as much of them as could be seen from the deck of a steamboat, or through the window of a railway carriage. The Prince no doubt saw the great waterfall as well as any ordinary traveller. Niagara does not roar out flattery even to princely ears. The same thing may probably be said of two or three other of the great transatlantic sights: but, for the rest, the Prince might as well have been acompanying his royal mother upon a “Progress.” Wherever he has gone, he has been greeted by obsequious governors, mayors, chairmen of railways, and so forth, just as though he had been the Prince of Wales without an incognito. The burden of their song has been, just that which is invariably addressed to princes—

Que son mérite est extrême!
Que de grâces,—que de grandeur!
Ah! combien Monseigneur
Doit être content de lui-même!

It was scarcely worth while going so far to listen to such stuff as this. We have a few mayors and aldermen at home who could have supplied the article without stint. On the other hand, although the Prince will not in all probability derive much instruction from his journey, as a political move it seems to have answered well. The Canadians have ever been a loyal race—are they not next door neighbours to republicans? The Prince’s visit has confirmed them in their attachment to the British crown.

There is much in the States which it would be well the Prince should see with his own eyes, but which he never, never will see. The adulation of the United States will prove greater than the adulation of the Canadas. We are almost tempted to rush to his rescue, when we think of the amount of “speechification” which our youthful but unfortunate Prince will have to endure. Would that he could learn something of the true nature of life in the United States. It would prove a more useful lesson to him than all the very respectable Dons at Cambridge or Oxford can impart to him in the way of information. There is the great problem of Slavery, for example, which he might study with advantage upon the spot. Of course the the wretched negroes would be washed in eau-de-Cologne on the occasion of his visit, but still he might learn something from the sight, even through all the masks and disguises which cover the reality of all this human wretchedness. For the rest, we all wish a prosperous journey and a happy return to our young Prince; and, in the words of the old Canadian boat-song, pray that whilst away from us he may meet with

—— cool heavens and favouring air!


One of the saddest events of last week has been the sudden and most unexpected death of Mr. Joseph Locke—the last of the great engineers. Almost within a few months, Brunel, Robert Stephenson, and Joseph Locke have been carried to their graves. Not long since in the pages of Once a Week we gave a sketch of Robert Stephenson’s career and achievements, and now we are called upon to add a few notes about his friend and fellow pupil. Both Robert Stephenson and Joseph Locke sat at the feet of that famous old man, George Stephenson, and drew their inspiration from him. It was George Stephenson who first climbed up from the bowels of the earth into upper air, and looking round perceived that the moment had arrived for dealing with Time and Space. Not only did he see that the thing was to be done, but he had at hand the men who were prepared to carry his plans into execution. What he wanted was a legion of miners, of delvers, and diggers, and these were ready to his hand. George Stephenson, if he did not quite invent the modern “navvy,” at least drew him from obscurity, and placed his proper work before him. His was the great Titanic period of engineering. Men were then in doubt as to points which to us, who are acting by the light of their experience, are as clear as noon-day. When George Stephenson was examined before the Parliamentary Committee, he was well nigh pooh-poohed out of Court—out of every thing, in short, but his convictions—by the glib tongue and agile wit of the late Baron—then Mr.—Alderson. There was something so supremely ridiculous in the bare idea that a steam-engine could sail upon land, and drag twenty or thirty carriages after it. What could honourable gentlemen and learned brothers think of such a monstrous proposal? They could not be in earnest; and, as for that rough north-country fellow, who was endeavouring to palm off his crude notions upon men of education—really the thing would not bear looking at. Somehow or other this rough north-countryman did get a hearing, and in 1826 he became the engineer of the Manchester and Liverpool Railway, and Chatmoss was turned into solid ground, and the iron rails were laid down, and despite of the dismal and jovial prognostications of the lawyer, the engineer’s words were made good. Steam answered.

To think that railways have only existed for thirty years or thereabouts—we mean of course railways such as are now used for the conveyance of passengers—not the mere tramways of the north country! But thirty years ago the minds of the greatest engineers in Europe were still in a condition of hesitation, as to what was the best motive power which could be employed. Atmospherics, and rope-traction, and what not, had their advocates. At this period it was that old George took the consideration of this matter up in solemn earnest, and called to counsel with him his boy Robert and Joseph Locke. Young Locke was then about twenty-three or twenty-four years of age. He and his friend Robert Stephenson prosecuted their experiments to so much purpose that the superiority of the locomotive as the motive power was clearly established. So true were the results obtained that any departure from the conclusions at which those two young men arrived some thirty years ago has invariably ended in failure and waste of money. In those days young men who had real power in them did not long linger in the rear—nor was George Stephenson the man to keep his lads back when he saw they were of the right stuff. When the Manchester and Liverpool Railway was completed, and was found to work well, the Birmingham men soon came to the conclusion that they could not afford to depend any longer upon the old turnpike-road. George Stephenson took the matter in hand for them—but about the year 1834 handed over the responsibilities and duties to Joseph Locke, then a young man scarcely thirty years of age. This was the absolute commencement of a career which has now extended over twenty-five years of unabated distinction and prosperity. His great English achievement, however, was the construction of the London and Southampton line. Just as Brunel made the Great Western, and Robert Stephenson the North Western; so Joseph Locke will be principally remembered as the engineer of the London and Southampton line. In France he was the engineer of the lines from Paris to Rouen, and Rouen to Havre. Professional men will tell you that, amongst engineers, one of his great titles to distinction is that he was the man who first dared to grapple with the steeper gradient, and so avoided unnecessary outlay in construction. In one respect Locke was the very opposite to Brunel; practically speaking, his estimates invariably covered his expenditure. He was member for Honiton for thirteen years, and president of the Institution of Civil Engineers after Robert Stephenson’s death. There seems to be a fatality over our great engineers. The three most distinguished members of the profession have been called away in rapid succession. To the honoured names of Robert Stephenson and Brunel, must now be added that of Joseph Locke.


London on the surface is no longer tenable. We are in a state of permanent blockade. As far as the principal thoroughfares are concerned, it is impossible to pass from point to point without such obstructions and delays, that more often than not it would be an economy of time—always of temper and patience—to perform the distance on foot in place of in a vehicle drawn by horses. Now, it unfortunately happens that these leading thoroughfares are just those which are in most constant request. Many people wish to pass along the Strand and Fleet Street—few care to spend a day in driving round Dorset Square. It is not only that the throng of vehicles is so great that in the chief streets they are obliged to follow each other at a foot’s pace; but the London streets are in themselves far too narrow for the accommodation of the inhabitants. Except Portland Place, Farringdon Street, and Whitehall, we have scarcely a street in London of sufficient width. Here there are two elements of disturbance, vehicles too many, and streets not wide enough. But, in addition to this, and as though to carry the nuisance to its highest point, the Gas and Water Companies are perpetually breaking up the road, in order to make good defects in their pipes. There is scarcely a leading street in London in which there was not a blockade last week, in consequence of this interference with the traffic. It is now proposed that permanent subways should be constructed, with sufficient adits, so that the servants of the Companies should at all times be able to have access to the piping, without the necessity of establishing barricades. As the water companies and gas companies have now a practical monopoly, and are no longer engaged in cutting the throats of rivals, it is to be hoped they will seriously turn their thoughts to the matter. The change ought to answer on commercial grounds. If the metal of the London streets were left undisturbed, and in the broader thoroughfares tramways were laid down for omnibuses and the heavier traffic, a Londoner might hope to be once more in time for a railway, without allowing a quarter of an hour per mile for stoppages.